Sportvision's technical wizardry enhances the game for more than 200 million fans a year, from football's yellow first-down marker to baseball graphics that create a digital strike zone. Its newest creation, FieldF/x, captures each player's movement in a baseball game, quantifying defense as never before. Here's how it works.
Sportvision's first sale of FieldF/x was to the San Francisco Giants and installed in AT&T Park. Two computer-vision cameras, mounted atop the light stanchions, capture more than 600,000 location points in a typical game, such as where fielders, runners, and the ball are at any given moment.
By analyzing the exact moments when a pitch is struck and a fielder steps toward the ball, software calculates that player's reaction time, revealing who gets the best jump.
Once league-wide data are available (expected by the 2011 season), teams can determine which players have the best range, take the optimal path to the ball, and make the strongest—as measured in miles per hour—and most accurate throws.
FieldF/x builds on the data Sportvision's PitchF/x already tracks, such as the trajectory of every pitch. FieldF/x reveals how much of a head start a runner gets when a pitcher begins his throwing motion, showing managers a more precise measure of which pitchers are most prone to giving up stolen bases.
FieldF/x will reveal a lot about hitters as well. Instead of simply comparing batting averages, teams can factor in the quality of the defense that the hitter faces most often within his division to get a more accurate assessment of his offensive ability.
FieldF/x calculates the speed of the runner and also determines whether he took the most efficient path around the bases, and where he decelerated and accelerated.